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Olympics

Get up, stand up: McLeod strikes gold for Jamaica

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Jamaica’s Omar McLeod celebrates after winning the men’s 110m hurdles final at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London on Aug. 7.
(Ian Langsdon / EPA)

LONDON — The tune blaring across the stadium sound system was unmistakable: “Jamming” by Bob Marley. The flag the winner paraded around the track was familiar too: the black, green and gold cross of Jamaica.

That 110-meter hurdler Omar McLeod was at the center of the celebration Monday wasn’t all that big a surprise.

That McLeod was the first from the island to do the honors at this year’s world championships still feels like something of a shock.

The 23-year-old from Kingston did what Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson could not the previous two nights in the 100 meters — namely, powered toward the finish line and left the field behind to bring a gold medal home to a country that has come to expect nothing less.

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“I took it upon myself to reroute that and bring that spark back,” said McLeod, an Olympic champion last summer.

McLeod won in 13.04 seconds, while the world-record holder, American Aries Merritt, finished fifth.

It marked the first disappointment of the meet for the U.S. on a straightaway where Justin Gatlin and Tori Bowie won gold in the 100 and Christian Coleman finished second to Gatlin and one spot ahead of Bolt.

The U.S. was shut out of the medals in the 110 hurdles for the first time since the world championships were first contested in 1983.

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“Everyone in the hurdling game is hurdling well,” said Merritt, who was competing in his first major competition since a kidney transplant after the 2015 worlds. “The event is much deeper than it has been in a long time.”

Sergey Shubenkov of Russia finished .1 of a second behind McLeod for the silver medal, though that prize will go in nobody’s column.

Shubenkov came in as the defending world champion but was not able to compete at the Olympics last year because of the doping scandal that has engulfed his country.

He is one of 19 Russians cleared to compete in London this year, his anti-doping regimen judged to be robust enough to return to competition.

But with Russia’s track federation still suspended, all 19 of the Russians are competing as neutral athletes.

They wear aqua, red and pink uniforms with no hint of the Russian flag or any other Russian symbol.

Other gold medalists Monday were Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas in the triple jump and Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk in the hammer throw.

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon won the 1,500 meters, while Caster Semenya of South Africa moved from fifth to third over the last 50 meters to capture the bronze.

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The IAAF is looking to reinstate an overturned ban on Semenya, claiming her higher-than-normal testosterone levels give her an unfair advantage over the other women.


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